For Immediate Release: October 12, 2011
Department of Human Rights Announces Plan to Investigate All Charges of Discrimination and Resolve Charges More Quickly
Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey today announced a new strategy to resolve charges of discrimination more quickly, and a new policy under which the department will investigate all charges that are filed. The department had previously dismissed some charges without investigating, due to lack of resources.
Before Lindsey was appointed the head the Department of Human Rights by Gov. Mark Dayton in February 2011, the department would accept but immediately dismiss some charges to allow those charging parties to pursue their cases through the court system.
"If we are going to be committed to ending discrimination in Minnesota, we should be investigating all legitimate complaints," Lindsey said. "If someone believes they have been discriminated against and it appears to be a legitimate complaint over conduct that would violate the Minnesota Human Rights Act, we are going to take on that case and investigate it."
To resolve charges of discrimination more quickly, certain cases will now be given expedited attention in a process the department calls Rocket Docket. "These might be cases in which we see that there are very few issues to resolve, and a limited number of witnesses to interview," Lindsey explained. "It makes sense to move these cases through quickly, rather than placing them at the back of the line."
Other factors that could make a case a candidate for Rocket Docket treatment at the Department of Human Rights include:
- Cases in which the seriousness of the harm that is alleged in the complaint requires prompt resolution to alleviate this harm.
- Cases involving a governmental entity, in which there is a likelihood that the harm alleged in the complaint may be repeated multiple times, causing potentially greater impact on society.
Lindsey believes that expedited handling of certain cases will benefit those who file charges of discrimination, and as well as businesses, public institutions and others who are accused of discrimination as respondents.
"There is a considerable value to respondents in investigating cases more quickly. There are going to be some charges which do not have any merit, and it's of benefit to respondents to investigate and dispose of those cases as soon as possible," Lindsey explained. "No charging party should have to wait for justice if their claim has merit; however, no respondent should have to wait for vindication when they have done nothing wrong."
The department's new Rocket Docket strategy is being coordinated by Asuquo Ekpenyong, supervisor of the department's Intake Unit, and Melanie Miles, who supervises the department's Investigations Unit. Both were named to their current positions in June 2011.
For more information contact Jeff Holman, 651.539.1090, firstname.lastname@example.org